No Felons on House Justice Committee - 950 Responses

Jan 04, 2015

Second chance or conflict of interest? When House Speaker Shawn Jasper assigned newly elected Republican Rep. Max Abramson to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, he sparked a lively debate about whether or not a convicted felon should be able to serve. Jasper later decided to reassign Abramson. "Once I saw the facts, I felt that it was inappropriate," he told WMUR. On January 4, the Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) asked its  Facebook members to weigh in on the question, "Should a state rep convicted of a felony serve as a member of the NH House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee?"

A 65% majority of those directly answering the question said that they did not feel Abramson should be permitted on the committee, with 35% holding that they would have not have objected to the original appointment. Twenty-nine percent of those commenting opted not to give a yes or no answer, instead directing their remarks to broader issues. In sum, the LFDA received 298 specific comments supported by 652 concurrences for a total of 950 citizen responses. Rep. Abramson himself also weighed in on the discussion, sharing his side of the story and responding to questions and comments from other members.

Those standing against Abramson's assignment argued that it was inappropriate for a convicted felon to serve on the Justice Committee. "There are countless jobs he is no longer suitable for," one poster noted. "It would be a clear cut conflict of interest," said another. A significant number of those responding went further, arguing that convicted felons should not be allowed to serve in the State House at all. "A person with a felony conviction should not be allowed to run for office," one commenter said.

Others supported Abramson's original assignment, arguing that as he had  been legally elected by the voters of his constituency, he had a right to serve on any committee in the House.  "He was elected by the people to represent the people," one poster said. Some even saw Abramson's personal history as an asset, arguing that it would have given him a valuable perspective to share with other representatives. "Who better than someone who has been through the system?" suggested one commenter.

Those who did not give a yes or no response to the question debated the case that had resulted in Abramson's conviction. "A jury found him guilty," one poster argued. "Why is firing a firearm into the ground a felony?" another commenter asked.

Click here to see the full Facebook discussion of this question.

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